As a creative type, I enjoy seeing a mix of ideas being put together into something unique. That probably is why I like jazz fusion and hearing synthesizers in death metal. My appreciation of combinations deemed weird by others extends to the game table as well.
Working at a game store for more years than I should admit exposed me to a lot of cool offbeat ideas. There was an alternate history campaign setting called Weird War II that saw large helpings of horror and occult elements added into the grittiness of warfare through Nazi-occupied Europe. A couple of examples were the large number of blood mages amongst the SS and an entire division of German wehrmacht that actually was manned by werewolves (so the very nice play on words was priceless).
A second published setting that mixed things up was Etherscope. This was a steampunk-themed setting modified by the presence of more traditional fantasy species and a very cool spin on the modern day’s Internet. Crystal balls and special mirrors served as means of communicating across long distances with all of these portals linked by way of a variant of the Ethereal Plane. Dwelling within that plane were entities of ill-intent, adding to the setting’s already prevalent social and economic hardships.
Of course, there also is the venerable Rifts setting that can provide many different combinations for all kinds of gaming tastes. While much can be said about the problems with the mechanics of the Rifts rule system, its setting and background are a very rich tapestry that mixes fantasy, science fiction, post-apocalypse and even horror genres into a fairly well-structured whole.
The even older GURPS also is a system that can offer all manner of mix-and-match parts. Sourcebooks exploring a single historical era, literary genre, concept or even licensed intellectual property can be combined into countless combinations. The limits only exist within the imagination of the adventurous game master.
All of these pre-packaged genre and concept mixes were great to explore and study. A few of them even offered a fair amount of productive game time. Without question, though they all gave me a lot of inspiration that fueled my own campaign creations. I will present a few of those in next week’s installment (which is almost finished as of this moment).